Let’s be honest: sex and pregnancy aren’t always two words pregnant women want to hear in the same sentence. Sex isn’t always a priority when dealing with fluctuating hormones (estrogen and progesterone in particular), changing bodies, nausea, acid reflux, new aches and pains, and all the other fun shifts that occur during pregnancy.
Apparently, some women experience a major increase in their sex drive during pregnancy leading to the best sex of their lives. Yes, please. For other women, their sex drive plummets and they’d be happy to put sex on the back burner for the foreseeable future. For other couples, the non-pregnant partner may have concerns about having sex with their partner while pregnant leading to less fun in the bedroom.
Besides being enjoyable and fun, sex has a lot of benefits during pregnancy. Sex can increase feel-good hormones boosting oxytocin (also known as the love hormone). It can lead to increased feelings of closeness during a time when couples tend to feel a bit more distanced from one another. Continuing to make sex a priority during pregnancy can help with staying close to your partner after the baby arrives, too. For many couples, sexual activity continues to decline in the early years of having a young child – so making it a priority during pregnancy can help offset this.
The reality is that many women’s sex drives aren’t as robust during pregnancy. Particularly during the first trimester when all day nausea and exhaustion are relentless. It’s important to listen to your body and never feel pressured to have sex while pregnant. It’s totally ok if you don’t feel the same about sex during pregnancy. However, if you’re looking to figure out how to keep things alive in the bedroom – keep reading.
What is a sex drive?
Your sex drive, also known as your libido, is how desirable you find sex at a given time. For women, we’re used to some fluctuations in our sex drive as our menstrual cycle plays out each month. Sex drives fluctuate due to hormones, emotions, life circumstances, and how close we feel to our sexual partner. Some people innately have higher sex drives than others whether pregnant or not.
It can be particularly disconcerting to find you have a lower sex drive during pregnancy if you’re someone who typically has a higher sex drive. Just know that due to the variety of factors mentioned above, changes in sex drive during pregnancy are completely normal, and are not a life sentence.
How to keep your sex drive alive
You are far from alone if you’re one of the many women who just doesn’t feel like having sex nearly as often while pregnant. Low libido during the first trimester is beyond normal. By your second trimester, you may be feeling a bit more like yourself. This is the ideal time to focus on boosting your sex drive since your hormones begin to stabilise and those uncomfortable first trimester symptoms are hopefully behind you.
Increased blood flow to the clitoris and vulva can actually make sex more enjoyable than in pre-pregnancy. Some women report having the best orgasms of their life while pregnant. The only issue: getting in the mood in the first place. Here are some ideas:
- Spend time together: The first trimester is often a lonely time that can leave couples feeling a bit distant. Try reconnecting over a meal or something that you like to do together. Talk about your feelings together. Feeling close to your partner is an important piece of the sex drive puzzle
- Get to know your body: Spending some time orienting yourself to your new body may help you feel more comfortable and lead to an increase in your sex drive. This might look like buying bras and underwear that feel good to your changing body, taking pregnancy photos, standing in front of the mirror and admiring the changes, or something more intimate.
- Eat libido boosting foods: Certain foods are known to boost libido. We’ve all heard about oysters and chocolate. But did you know that grapefruit, avocados, bananas, pineapple, celery, and almonds can also do the trick?
- Exercise and get adequate sleep: Feeling depleted can lead to a decreased sex drive even you’re not expecting. Make sure you’re doing things that make you feel healthy and positive during pregnancy. Moving your body will help you feel more connected to it which often leads to an increased sex drive.
- Try something new: Many couples report that novelty like taking a babymoon, trying new toys, and changing up positions can help increase sex drive.
- Talk about it: The reality is that sex during pregnancy can be a tricky area for couples to navigate. It’s important to stay open about what you’re experiencing. Shame is definitely not going to increase anyone’s sex drive. Let your partner know your worries about sex and create an open dialogue around it.
- Take it slow: There’s nothing like too many expectations to make any experience feel decidedly unsexy. Let your partner know where you are and start slowly. Maybe it’s just making out while watching a movie.
- Try some self-care: Sometimes it’s hard to feel that pregnancy glow we’ve heard so much about. Acne, backaches, and weight gain aren’t exactly a recipe for feeling in the mood. Scheduling a pregnancy-safe massage or facial, getting your hair done, or even visiting the chiropractor can all help you feel less blah and more confident and embodied.
Sex during pregnancy is anything but simple. By the third trimester, many women feel so uncomfortable and large just waddling around that sex feels like a logistical impossibility. Believe it or not, sex is often recommended by midwives and doulas to help soften the cervix. Semen contains prostaglandins that can help get the body ready for delivery. Try different positions, laugh your way through, and just know that your body will eventually feel much less foreign.
Lastly, your sex drive may be lower postpartum, too. Keep these tips in your back pocket for those exhausted early months when sex might feel low down on your priority list.